Cuba to restructure food marketing

April 16th, 2008 - 6:15 pm ICT by admin  

Havana, April 16 (IANS) Cuba is moving to restructure the system for marketing food products to revitalize the farm sector, Spain’s EFE news agency reported Wednesday. “We are working hard on the idea of restructuring the marketing of agricultural products,” said Orlando Lugo, chief of National Association of Small Farmers (ANAP) Tuesday.

The current system “has many problems, has many catches, we lose a lot of resources that are produced by the producers”, Lugo said in a television programme.

Explaining the measures needed to be taken to reform the farm sector, the ANAP head said companies would be created to provide services to producers.

Raul Castro, younger brother of Fidel Castro, the architect of the Cuban Revolution, was installed as president last month after serving as provisional leader since Fidel fell ill in July 2006.

Since taking office Feb 24, he has indicated his intentions to reform Cuba’s creaking economy, but without ceding the Communist Party’s monopoly on political power.

The agricultural reforms Raul Castro is promoting included administrative decentralization, providing supplies directly and indirectly to farmers and cooperatives, improving prices and making more land available to producers.

The government’s goal is to put idle land - which according to official figures accounts for 51 percent of Cuba’s total farmland - into production, drastically reducing the food imports that cost the island around $1.6 billion annually, Lugo said.

Agriculture ministry and sugar ministry stores have been operating since April 1, providing supplies to peasants, who lack the tools needed to work the land, he said.

The stores carry 11 lines of goods, ranging from machetes to rubber boots, clothing, shoes, pliers and wire, the ANAP chief said.

Lugo said there were “things” that had been unveiled for the agricultural industry and others that were still under review.

“Whatever needs to be changed, everybody can be sure that we are going to change it,” he added.

In less than two months since Raul Castro took office, several things have changed in Cuba: microwaves, mobile phones and the Internet are to be accessible for as many people as possible, and Cubans can now stay in luxury hotels which were until now were only for foreigners.

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